PESHAWAR: The University of Peshawar has handed over all three classrooms of the philosophy department to the social work department causing fears among 12 MPhil students about the closure of the department.

The university issued a notification on Tuesday asking the philosophy department to hand over its classrooms and two offices to the department of social work. Also, the department of Islamiyat will hand over two of its classrooms, chairman’s office and a common room to the international relations department.

A university teacher told Dawn that the move was a step towards the closure of the philosophy department, which usually attracted a few students compared to others.

The varsity, which was initially housed in the Oriental Block was transferred to New Academic Block.

Spokesman says separate learning arrangements will be made

The transferring of all classrooms in the department’s control has left the department without any space, where some of students can attend a class.

An official who did not wanted to name told Dawn that the vice chancellor visited the department on Tuesday and decided to transfer of all classrooms to the social work department.

He said that philosophy department was facing problems in attracting students for its bachelor’s programme due to the fact that several public sector universities have sprung up all over the province. He said that most of the students preferred to study at universities closer to their homes.

He said that philosophy departments all over the world attracted fewer students as compared to other mainstream disciplines. “Philosophy is necessary for any society,” he said.

The official said that department, which is only one teaching philosophy as discipline in the province had asked for a waiver; which the university administration denied.

The official said that instead of outright denial of teaching space to a full-fledged department, varsity authorities could have numbered the classrooms, which can be used by different departments for their classes. However, varsity administration is not bothered about such proposals.

The official said the philosophy department’s faculty was fully engaged in teaching in philosophy related courses like logic, ethics and critical thinking to bachelor students in various other disciplines and denial of classrooms was likely to create problems for the faculty as well.

Following the transfer of the classrooms, the department will only comprise of offices of faculty members and it was not clear how the currently enrolled students would continue their academic studies.

When contacted, a spokesman for the university said the departments would share classroom with other disciplines and separate learning arrangements would be made for the students of the philosophy department.

He said the sharing of classes started with launch of BS programmes in light of Higher Education Commission’s decision, which pushed up the numbers of students.

The spokesman said the bachelor’s programmes had up to over 120 students, which made seating arrangements for them a bit challenging.

He said it was decided to share classrooms of various departments.

The spokesman said the students would use classrooms on the time of their classes and it was an established practice in private universities.

Philosophy was introduced as honors degree in the University of Peshawar in 1962. A year later, the department was elevated from honours to masters level and has been running post graduate courses in philosophy since then.

In 2005, department started MPhil and PhD courses.

Noted philosophers Dr Intisarul Haq, Dr Mohammad Saleem and Dr Ashraf Adil headed the department in the past.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2021

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